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Earth Day, One Person Can Make a Big Difference

Friday was an important day for everyone, and I’m not speaking of religious circles. Friday was Earth Day 2011. And whether you think about it or not, or you care about it or not, I believe we are lucky to have people out there who do care enough to do what’s best for our planet. We need it to survive, after all.

Earth Day started in 1970, the idea of a then U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, Gaylord Nelson. The massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, Calif. the year before spurred his enthusiasm for becoming an activist in the fight to clean up our water and air.

That first Earth Day, 20 million Americans joined in a massive coast-to-coast rally to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment. Many of these same people were already fighting alone against oil spills, industrial pollution, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, loss of wilderness and extinction of wildlife.

Earth Day led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species acts.

Each spring when the winter snow melts away, I feel disgusted by the amount of trash and debris that is exposed along the roadsides and in yards.

Growing up in Michigan I was first introduced to recycling when the state passed a law requiring deposits on bottles and cans. A pain in the neck, to be sure, but it made a huge difference in the amount of trash you see lining the picturesque roadways.

Once a week, my Dad would make all five of us kids go outside and pick-up trash that had blown into the yard. Yes, it was embarrassing as a teenager to be picking up garbage. But to this day I cannot stand to see plastic bags caught in my trees and bushes or empty pop and Red Bull cans left in the driveway.

In Channahon we have the adopt-a-spot program where businesses, organizations or even families adopt a portion of the roadway and clean it up three times a year. I’ve walked Ford Road with a garbage bag in my hand a few times as part of the Channahon-Minooka Rotary Club clean-up team.

As I take my almost daily walks, I notice that nearly all my neighbors and those in adjacent subdivisions always have recycling bins full to the brim. Bravo!

Last year I began composting. It’s amazing how much less garbage I have on Mondays now that I don’t put fruit and vegetable scraps, egg shells and coffee grinds in the trash (especially when you can’t have a garbage disposal).

But I also love the idea I’m taking one of earth’s resources and creating another type of resource. My first batch of compost late last summer was like digging for gold. I’ve added a second composter to my arsenal this year.

And I also got a barrel to catch the rain for watering plants.

Now that’s an awesome way to save water.

The Will County Land Use Department has partnered up with Vintage Tech Recyclers in Romeoville to bring home pick-up of electronic recyclables to county residents.

Every year between 20 and 50 million tons of electronic waste is generated and 85 percent of it ends of up landfills. It’s not just the amount of metal; electronics contain hazardous materials like lead, mercury, batteries, hexavalent chromium and color cathode ray tubes.

Pick-ups are already being scheduled for many towns, including Channahon, Minooka, Joliet, New Lenox, Plainfield, Rockdale, Shorewood and Wilmington (to name a few), and more towns are being added to the program.

For details and to schedule a pick-up, call Vintage Tech at 877-786-4715. They’ll pick up computers, printers, TVs, phones and answering machines, keyboards, zip drives, cables, string lights, microwaves, faxes, scanners, video game consoles, cassette and DVD players and more.

If you feel that one person can’t make a difference, check out www.earthday.org and go to the “acts of green” program. As of Friday more than 102,000,000 people pledged to do simple acts to help our world. The goal is one billion. Be a part of the goal.

Reach Kris Stadalsky at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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